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Immanuel Lutheran celebrates centennial

Congregation grew from German roots

Oct. 31, 2012

It was a weekend of rejoicing and reflecting.

Nearly 500 people took part in Immanuel Lutheran Church's centennial anniversary this weekend. A variety of festivities - including a commemorative service, concert and banquet celebration - took place as participants paid homage to a church that has been an important staple on Brookfield's northeast side for more than 50 of its 100 years in existence.

Immanuel Lutheran Church has roots extending to 1912 in the present-day village of Butler. Settlers of German origin were looking to establish a Lutheran church within their community.

A Milwaukee Sentinel article from December of that year chronicled Immanuel Lutheran Church's dedication ceremony, where $27.88 was collected and went toward purchasing a number of important items, including a pulpit, coal and indoor lighting.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Changing with the times

In its earliest days, Immanuel Lutheran's church services were only in the German language and held inside a carpentry shop in the heart of the community. As time went on, and the congregation grew, English-spoken services were integrated into the church's programs.

Congregant Jackie Trettin has deep familial roots at the church. Her grandfather was one of Immanuel Lutheran's founding members.

Trettin said the weekend festivities brought up a mix of emotions.

"It was very melancholy, yet heart-warming at the same time," she said. "It was a very nice, special day. I will always remember it."

Throughout its history, Immanuel Lutheran Church has held services in four buildings, including its existing location at 13445 W. Hampton Road, near the Brookfield-Butler border. It was built in 1983 and has since included a number of additions, including a multipurpose room known as the Field House and a conference center.

From its earliest years, Immanuel Lutheran Church has held some form of school. Today, the congregation operates a childcare facility and parochial 3-year-old kindergarten to eighth-grade school on its grounds.

New discoveries made

Compiling Immanuel Lutheran Church's rich history was an ambitious and time-consuming endeavor for several congregants. Jay Isaacson, a member of the church, served as a historian on the church's 100th anniversary committee.

While most of the church's history had been documented through various artifacts, committee members came across a few discoveries that had not been known by modern members.

For example, photos, original land deeds and a report from the parent district revealed the church's initial location was at the northwest corner of what today is 127th Street and Peck Place in Butler. Five years later, the church moved to a longtime location in the village along West Derby Place.

Also unknown prior to the recent research was the church's official dedication date: Dec. 8, 1912.

"None of our earlier church histories had ever mentioned this," Isaacson said.

The events of this past weekend, held in conjunction with Reformation Sunday, were the culmination of a yearlong centennial theme. Throughout the year, the congregation has held a variety of events that included school musicals, auctions and an old-fashioned church service.

Trettin readily acknowledges that Immanuel Lutheran Church has undergone a number of changes over the years.

"It's been interesting looking at some of the old decorations and the styles of dress people had back then because there was so much more formality," she said.

But there have been some constants.

"People had the same concerns back then that we have now," Trettin said. "They were thinking about their families, finances, education, spirituality and their relationship with God."

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